Our Staff

Program Director

Hi! My name is Mrs. Lexie Cathcart.  I have spent the last 20 years teaching kids in many different settings: gymnastics, dance, preschool, and daycare. I have a passion for working with kids and love to watch them grow help them learn! My husband, John, and I have 3 kids. Zoe 15, Dakota 12, and Katana who is 4 years old. We also have dog naed Dexter and a cat named Artemis.

I attended Central Michigan University on a full ride gymnastics scholarship. While there, I took many early elementary education classes, but decided to settle on the path of  an art degree with a major in Photography and a minor in Art History. As the years passed and school was a distant memory I found my way back to education! I am passionate about and love working with kids! 

 

 

  • Food: Tacos
  • Beverage: Coffee
  • Desert: Anything with lots of chocolate
  • Color: Green
  • Sports: Gymnastics and Hockey
  • Animal: Zebra
  • Quote: Kindness changes everything!
  • Hobbies: Photography, bike riding, gardening, being outside, and reading.

 

 


Kindergarten/1st Grade Teacher

My name is Amber Lewis.  I have lived here in South Dakota for 7 years and love the Black Hills area. My husband and I love the Black Hills and enjoy the outdoors whenever we get the chance! We have two wonderful boxers who keep us active. 

 

 

My name is Katelyn Smith. I have very recently moved to the Spearfish area from Lima, Ohio with my parents, younger brother, golden retriever, and dachshund after excitedly visiting multiple times in the Black Hills to be with local family. I have spent the last 7 years teaching children in various educational facilities & programs. I have a passion for building connection & confidence in children while helping them learn & grow, and I am so excited to get to know you & your child this school year!

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  • Food: Chicken
  • Beverage: Coffee
  • Book: Wonder
  • Color: Purple
  • Sports: Gymnastics 
  • Animal: Dogs and Turtles
  • Quote: Why fit in when you were born to stand out!
  • Hobbies: Crocheting, playing cards and games with my family

 

 


Pre-K/Educational Camp Teacher

My name is Katelyn Smith. I have very recently moved to the Spearfish area from Lima, Ohio with my parents, younger brother, golden retriever, and dachshund after excitedly visiting, multiple times, local family in the Black Hills. I have spent the last 7 years teaching children in various educational facilities & programs. I have a passion for building connection & confidence in children while helping them learn & grow, and I am so excited to get to know you & your child this school year!

 

 

I attended Bowling Green State University, where I explored degrees in art, culture studies, language arts studies, before ultimately deciding to put my focus & major in Early Childhood Education after loving multiple field experiences in preschool & elementary settings. I am passionate about continuously improving my skills professionally & personally, and so continue to attend webinars & trainings that I believe will continue to hone my skills as an educator & well-rounded person.

  • Food: Dark Chocolate Almonds
  • Beverage: Green Tea
  • Book: The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull
  • Color: Green
  • Sports: Yoga & Hiking 
  • Animal: Fox
  • Quote: How do we change the world? One act of random kindness at a time.
  • Hobbies: Reading, writing, drawing, learning & spending time with loved one

 

 


Preschool/Educational Camp Teacher

My name is Debra Karsten. I move to the Black Hills in 2012 with my parents and now 12 year old daughter. In 2014 I met my husband and we relocated to Sturgis, SD and welcomed our son who is almost 4 years old. My husband and I love living in Sturgis and the small quiet town feel that it has. I am so excited to start the school year and Learning Tree and get to know everyone!

 

I have been working in early education for 5 years now and I can’t imagine doing anything else! I currently have a CDA (Child Development Associate) credential and next fall will be attending Black Hills State University to finish my Early Childhood Education Degree. I love working with kids and am very passionate about helping them learn, grow, and have fun
with education!

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  • Food: Ham, Corn on the Cob, Sweet Potatoes
  • Beverage: Strawberry Banana Smoothies
  • Desert: Anything with chocolate and peanut butter
  • Color: Turquoise
  • Sports: Football and Hockey 
  • Animal: Horses
  • Quote: With faith and hope you can succeed at anything you want in life!
  • Hobbies: Playing games with my family, cooking, baking, gardening and camping